Sunday, February 19, 2012

Carrabelle Beach on the Forgotten Coast

Carrabelle, Apalachicola, and St George Island are all towns on the Florida Panhandle called the Forgotten Coast.    Tourism is slow, although growing, as people discover this peaceful area.  Our RV park was across the street from the Carrabelle Beach and most days we could walk the beach with very few people around. 

Carrabelle's boom time came after the Civil War when lumber and naval stores were important to the area.  The first lumber mill was established in 1875, cutting pine and cypress from up river and in swamps and shipping the wood north.  The town was incorporated in the late 1800's and business flourished.  Between World War I and II the area went into an economic slump and fishing became the primary industry.  Today, the town of Carrabelle has a population of 1,300 and few fisherman remain.   Carrabelle Beach has some tourism but nothing like other areas of the Panhandle.

Low tide with the pups.

Seemed like you could walk out to another island the water was so low.

One of the natives.

I loved this sign.

Our biggest surprise was one afternoon at low tide when we saw this critter.  I thought it was a kite under water because it was so close to the water's edge.  Then I realized it was a stingray and I was glad I wasn't barefoot.  We saw quite a few of them each afternoon at low tide so it must be one of their feeding areas.

This stingray was gliding further out to sea as I was attempting to take it's picture.

Carrabelle Beach is very pristine and peaceful.
  We also took a drive to a town called Apalachicola about 30 minutes from Carrabelle.  It is a neat little town with eclectic shops and restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and an old hotel.  The area produces 90% of the oysters for Florida and 10% for the United States. 

One of the quaint shops in Apalachicola.

Cafe con Leche where we stopped for lunch.  I had a daily veggie sandwich which was served on Focaccia bread with spinach, red peppers, asparagus, and other wonderful vegetables.  It was divine !
The front sitting area across from the wharf where we had lunch.

A shop with buoys and other strange looking things.

The Gibson Hotel built in 1907 and still in service.

The wharf with some of the oyster boats.

Is somebody in there?

The entrance of a sponge shop.  The sponges were more expensive than we thought.
Chapman Botanical Gardens.  Tulips were already in full bloom.

A tree stump carved into a figurine.

One of several historical homes in Apalachicola.
 While staying in Carrabelle we walked the dogs through Tate's Hell State Forest.  There are hiking trails, waterways for canoeing and kayaking, and lots of hunting and fishing.  The forest consists mainly of tall march grasses,dwarf cypress trees in wetland areas and pine trees. 

Tate's Hell State Forest.

Dwarf Cypress in  Tate's Hell State Forest..

A very marshy area in places.

According to the locals, the forest got its name from a farmer who set off in 1875 to catch a panther that was killing his livestock.  He got lost in the woods for seven days, was bitten by a rattlesnake, and had to drink from the murky waters to curb his thirst.  When he finally found his way out he was nearly dead.  His final words were, " My name is Cebe Tate and I just came from hell".   

Also near Carrabelle, over a long bridge, is St George Island.  There are 20 miles of beach open to the public and one end is St George Island State Park.  There are quite a few vacation homes here and shops, restaurants, and hotels so this area has a much larger tourist trade but is also a very nice area for a vacation.

One other local saying we heard while on the beach from an old time resident of Carrabelle...... 'What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.  What happens in Carrabelle really didn't happen'! 

On to Cedar Keys.  Peace!  


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